Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

UNITE fights for young workers rights

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Video Dogs, a video shop in the Melbourne suburb of Carlton, has been forced to back-pay its workers over $4800. This came after UNITE revealed they were paying young workers with DVD rental instead of wages.

UNITE broke the story in the national media and called on the Workplace Ombudsman to investigate. After they were named in the media, Video Dogs paid out nearly $500 to six employees who were paid with DVDs. A number of other employees who were underpaid have also been back-paid more than $4300.

The Workplace Ombudsman decided not to prosecute Video Dogs on this occasion but has warned that they have been put on notice.

UNITE said in a press release that “It’s unfortunate that the Ombudsman has accepted ignorance as an excuse on this occasion, we would have liked to see a prosecution. Nevertheless this should serve as a warning to all dodgy bosses in retail.”

On the back of the publicity from the Video Dogs case, UNITE were approached by a group of 7-Eleven workers who were being paid as little as $9 per hour. Many of these workers were international students.

Again under pressure from UNITE, the Workplace Ombudsman was forced to investigate the claims and conducted a series of raids on 7-Eleven stores in the Melbourne CBD. Side by side with the raids UNITE has embarked on a campaign to organise 7-Eleven stores.

For a small union with very few resources UNITE are doing a fantastic job of fighting for young workers rights.

By SP reporters